* French government to seek 2 pct gas price hike
* Decision aims to protect purchasing power
* GDF Suez had sought 7 pct price rise (Adds details, background)
PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The French government will seek to increase regulated gas prices by 2 percent on October 1, rejecting French utility GDF Suez’s request for a 7 percent hike, a spokesman for the French Energy ministry said on Monday.
The ministry later said in a statement that the decision “aims to protect the purchasing power of the French.”
GDF Suez declined to comment.
Energy prices are a sensitive topic in France as consumer purchasing power is hurt by economic weakness and high unemployment. The government angered GDF Suez this summer by deciding to limit gas price rises to 2 percent.
GDF Suez’s request to rise prices by 7 percent from October 1 had met with a cool response from the government, which last week called it “excessive.” [ID: nL5E8KCAV8]
Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Elena Berton; Editing by Christian Plumb and William Hardy